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Dead Sea Scrolls online? the Open Scrolls project 2006-12-01

Posted by Peter Kirby at 1:55 AM | Permalink

You may have heard of "the Open Scrolls Project" before, and you would know, then, that it hasn't done much to get off the ground. I believe that this is because the model of volunteer contributions of translation time is not the most efficient, because it puts an extraordinary burden on a few individuals (those who are able to translate Aramaic, Greek, and Hebrew) without due compensation.

I believe that a better model would be to establish a fund out of which the qualified translators can be paid for the service they render. Then, people would be able to contribute their money to this fund, with the expectation that even a little bit of money will result in some of the Dead Sea Scrolls being translated and transcribed--and available for free--that were not before.

I would hope that individuals interested in the result would be contributors, but also corporations that sell Bible software packages that do not currently include the Dead Sea Scrolls, since they would be reaping the financial rewards of the result. I would definitely contact them for their sponsorship, in addition to the public.

If you go to the website,

You will see that I am currently looking for a few things to get off the ground:

First, I need two other people to serve on the Board of Directors for Open Scrolls, Inc. I would prefer people who have academic credentials (to compensate for my lack of such), but also an enthusiasm for the project. The Board of Directors may or may not be paid for their time, but would at least be able to recoup any expenses incurred.

Second, I need one to three people to serve as an editorial review for the work of translation. They would be responsible for quality control. They would be paid along with the translators. (Someone may serve on both the BoD and the editoral review, especially if they'd like to be paid. I myself won't be on the editorial review board.) The size of the editorial review board is a function of each person's available time; if we get one person with a lot of time, we may not need the other two.

Third, I need contacts for people wanting to be paid for the work of transcription and translation working off the photocopies in the "Discoveries in the Judean Desert" series (DJD). I could potentially use up to a dozen such people, subdividing out the actual work of translation and transcription.

Fourth, I could use the help of a web developer or web designer for the initial website. This is not crucial; will be a homebase for the distribution of the texts, but other channels will distribute the texts also. In a pinch I can do this work.

Fifth, I need the comments of people like you! What needs to be done so that this venture succeeds? You might know something I don't, so, enlighten me!

In particular...

What's the best license for the resulting transcription and translation? The main decision here is, should the result be fully public domain, or should the result by licensed under a "Creative Commons" or other open-type license? Please weigh in if you are familiar with the advantages and disadvantages. The main advantage (to me) of the latter, a license of some kind, is that you can control versioning (a modification has to be marked as a modification, etc.) and attribution ( and its translators must be credited).

What's the best way to solicit contributions? Maybe you know something I don't about the world of getting funding for research or educational projects, such as this one basically is.

Peter Kirby

PS-- The Open Scrolls website is already ranking #14 or so for the term "Dead Sea Scrolls" in Google. I am certain that it will make it to the first page of the search results as soon as some serious content can be found there. It is, therefore, a very good spot to position the transcription and translation effort described above.


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